NCAA Tournament Schedule 2013: Dissecting Thursday's Defensive-Minded Matchups

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NCAA Tournament Schedule 2013: Dissecting Thursday's Defensive-Minded Matchups
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Defense. It wins championships.

In the round of 64 in the 2013 NCAA tournament on Thursday, several matchups boast defensive-minded squads seeking to put the clamps on their opponents' tourney hopes.

Whether it be a No. 16 seed trying to upset a No. 1 seed, or a couple of NCAA tournament darlings attempting to advance to the next round, here's a breakdown of some defensive-minded matchups on Thursday.

All stats via ESPN.com and TeamRankings.com.


Virginia Commonwealth vs. Akron: March Madness Preview

Akron (12) vs. VCU (5)

When: 9:45 p.m. ET

Watch: CBS

Akron ranks 26th in defensive efficiency this season.

Its defensive efficiency over the past three games would rank second in the nation over the course of the 2012-2013 campaign. That includes holding Ohio to 33 percent shooting in the MAC title game, despite the Bobcats shooting 47 percent from the floor this season.

VCU, on the other hand, ranks a respectable 39th in defensive efficiency. Shaka Smart's Rams were tough defenders last year, too.

Expect the defense to ramp up in the NCAA tournament.

 

Elsa/Getty Images

North Carolina A&T (16) vs. Louisville (1)

 When: 6:50 p.m. ET

Watch: TBS

We all know about Louisville's defense.

The Cardinals rank second in defensive efficiency this season and rank 17th in opponents' field goal percentage.

But North Carolina A&T has also played good defense this season. The Aggies rank 27th in defensive efficiency, as well as 13th in opponents' field goal percentage.

This game is going to be particularly tough for the Aggies, who rank 311th in offensive efficiency. Rick Pitino's Cardinals could prove to be a nightmare matchup.

 

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon (12) vs. Oklahoma State (5)

When: 4:40 p.m. ET

Watch: TNT

Not only does Oregon rank 18th in defensive efficiency this season, Oklahoma State ranks 24th. The Cowboys also rank 19th in opponents' field goal percentage.

Oregon is coming off a 78-69 victory over UCLA in the Pac-12 tournament.

Oklahoma State is coming off a 68-57 loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 tournament, but that had more to do with the Cowboys' offense than their defense. They held the Wildcats to 39 percent shooting in the contest.

The fact that Oklahoma State and Oregon rank 79th and 1332nd respectively in offensive efficiency, there's even more reason to believe this will be a defensive battle.

 

Mike Stobe/Getty Images

New Mexico State (13) vs. Saint Louis (4)

When: 2:10 p.m. ET

Watch: TNT

I highlighted Saint Louis on Wednesday. The Billikens rank 10th in defensive efficiency and have scored 23.7 percent of their points from the free-throw line this season (ranked 25th in the nation).

New Mexico State isn't a bad defensive team, either. The Aggies rank 66th in defensive efficiency, as well as 49th in opponents' field goal percentage.

Another item of note: The Aggies also rank 61st in opponents' free throw attempts per offensive play.

That's significant given Saint Louis' knack for getting to the free-throw line.

Saint Louis and New Mexico State also rank 82nd and 116th respectively in offensive efficiency.

 

Don't forget to print out your bracket and follow along with the live bracketFollow all the exciting NCAA tournament action with March Madness Live.


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